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31 Days: Do Be A Tourist In Your Own City


I have had the opportunity to show several people around the place I call home. The first was my friend who lives in Houston. I didn't know if I could find anything that would impress her in my city, one that is roughly half the size of the one she lives in. But I was wrong. Tulsa wowed her - from its Art Deco architecture to its oil baron mansions, my friend left with a new respect for my hometown. And as I put her on the plane, I had a new respect for it too. Seeing it through her eyes gave me a unique view of it.

The second time I played tour guide was to friends visiting from Canada. Never having spent much time in Canada, except for a couple of hours on the last stop of an Alaskan cruise, I had no idea what to show them to give them a taste of what makes the United States different from their country. We had already visited Tulsa's two museums - one housed in a breathtaking1920s mansion surrounded by beautiful gardens and the other full of Western art in a setting with wonderful vistas - as part of the meeting they came to attend. I had a whole day to leave them with fond memories of their time in Oklahoma. It turns out hospitality was the way to their heart. We had several great meals and spent time in our unique shopping area and I think if given the chance, they'll return to my little part of America.

I was reminded of these experiences as I did some errands downtown today. I needed to buy a new license tag for my car so I visited an agency in the lobby of one of our high-rises. I then remembered that I had a check to deposit and decided to walk the 5 blocks to the bank. It was so invigorating. One, I felt like I lived in a much bigger city, like Chicago, because I was walking instead of getting into my car. I felt like I was part of something living and breathing, not just concrete and steel. And two, I felt like I was seeing my city in a completely different way, like a tourist seeing the beauty of the intricate Art Deco designs and the parks tucked between skyscrapers for the first time.

I fell in love with my hometown all over again today and I hoped that I have the chance to once again show it off to visitors. But until then, I think when I test my bravery and venture out to dine alone, I will find a restaurant downtown so I can feel that excitement again and again - to be a tourist in my own city and take in all it has to offer.

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